Ebb and flow

While Musicwhore.org may have given a very favorable review to downy’s second untitled album, truth is that album is pretty homogenous.

In fact, the review in question pussyfooted around the issue by stating, “… the entire disc feels like a single-flowing work.” That’s just a nice way of saying it was monotone.

downy’s third album — also untitled — pretty much reveals its predecessor’s shortcomings. By comparrison, this latest work is far more textured, a lot more varied, and even more hypnotic.

Instead of jackhammering from the start, downy begins quietly, almost hesitantly with “Tetsu no Fuukei”. The band’s trademark minimalism seethes but never explodes.

Even on the more kinetic “Anarchy Dance”, downy carefully structures its outbursts, layering tiny blasts of distortion over an oddly lilting rhythm.

This time around,

downy opts to intersperse softer, intense moments with its more kinetic ones, often within tracks.

“Keijijogaku” starts off sounding like another slow piece but eventually reveals itself to be a sparse, quick song instead.

“Akatsuki ni Te” starts off mechanically, then breaks down to only a few instruments.

Frontman Aoki Robin is as obfuscating as ever, but this time, he doesn’t sound so buried. On “Zen”, an overdubbed chorus of Aokis produces one of the album’s most haunting moments.

downy’s music may appear to be cold and robotic, blocky in the way its repeated motifs insistently loop and curl. But just when it seems the band is stuck, something gives way — an underlying guitar line coming to the fore, a mumbled vocal giving way to a percussive explosion.

On this album — should we bother nicknaming it “Cloudburst”, while calling the previous untitled albums “Thunderbolt” and “Eye”? — there’s an ebb and flow to the music that infuses it with emotion.

There are enough twists and turns in the downy’s songs to keep listeners interested. And perhaps entranced.

Start here.